Atlanta Falcons at Washington Redskins Preview

Matt Ryan looking for a call from the referees versus Carolina. (Kevin C. Cox)

The Atlanta Falcons are 4-0 for just the third time in franchise history.

The last time the Falcons rattled off four consecutive wins to start the season was in 2004. Incidentally, 2004 was the last time the Falcons won a playoff game (advancing to the NFC Championship).

The Falcons have already built a large lead over the rest of the NFC South after beating the Carolina Panthers last week. Both the Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are  sitting at 1-3, while the New Orleans Saints have yet to win a game at 0-4.

This Sunday, the Falcons look to go 5-0 for the first time in franchise history as they travel to the nation’s capital to face rookie Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins (2-2).

Griffin has been everything the Redskins hoped he would be when they traded a king’s ransom to the St. Louis Rams in the 2012 NFL Draft to select him. The rookie has completed 69.4% of his passes, throwing for 1,070 yards, four touchdowns, and just one interception – good for a 103.2 passer rating. Griffin has also been effective using his legs, rushing for 234 yards and four touchdowns.

Last Sunday, Griffin led the Redskins to a victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a broken headset. He’s playing like anything but a rookie.

However, the Redskins have to face Matt Ryan, who has been the hottest quarterback in the league through the four weeks. Ryan leads the league in passer rating at 112.1 and is second in touchdowns with 11. He’s thrown just two interceptions.

Ryan’s scorching start and Atlanta’s many weapons in the passing game could spell doom for Washington’s 31st ranked pass defense. The Redskins give up 326.2 yards per game through the air, and the Falcons will undoubtedly look to go to the air early and often.

On the flip side, the Redskins have the league’s second-ranked rushing attack led by Griffin and rookie running back Alfred Morris, whereas the Falcons are extremely vulnerable against the run, allowing 146.2 rushing yards per game. The Falcons also have trouble with mobile quarterbacks, as seen last week with Cam Newton and the Panthers. Washington presents the same problem with Griffin.

The last time the two teams met was in the Georgia Dome in the 2009 NFL season. Atlanta won the match-up 31-17. During the game, head coach Mike Smith and ex-Falcon DeAngelo Hall got in a sideline scuffle after Ryan was hit late running out of bounds.

With both teams being able to put up points in bunches and being suspect in a defensive area, this looks to be a high-scoring affair. I think the Falcons’ high-powered offense will prove to be to much for the Redskins secondary, and the Falcons go 5-0 for the first time.

Numbers Comparison

Atlanta Falcons:

Points Scored: 31.0 (3rd)
Total Offense: 365.2 (15th)
Passing Offense: 267.5 (11th)
Rushing Offense: 97.8 (18th)

Points Allowed: 19.0 (8th)
Total Defense: 353.2 (15th)
Passing Defense: 207.0 (8th)
Rushing Defense: 146.2 (29th)

Washington Redskins:

Points Scored: 30.8 (4th)
Total Offense: 421.8 (2nd)
Passing Offense: 250.8 (15th)
Rushing Offense: 171.0 (2nd)

Points Allowed: 30.8 (27th)
Total Defense: 415.2 (29th)
Passing Defense: 326.2 (31st)
Rushing Defense: 89.0 (10th)

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